Message from the Superintendent 01.12.22
I wanted to give you an update on our planned return to school next week.
We all know that the best place for our students to learn is at school—and our students in particular need in-person instruction.
With this current period of virtual instruction and staff testing (after higher than normal risks of exposure due to holiday gatherings), we are hopeful that MSB will have adequate numbers of staff who are not in quarantine or isolation for COVID19 so that we can safely return to in-person instruction as planned on Tuesday, January 18. (Tier 4: Residential students would return on Monday evening, January 17.)
Likewise, this break in in-person instruction will hopefully reduce the risks associated with student exposures who also may have spent time with friends and relatives during the break.
So as we look forward to next week, I want to prepare you for two possibilities as COVID-19 Omicron continues to spread:
- Individual classrooms may have to remain in or revert to remote instruction at any time over the next few months due to a lack of staff coverage related to quarantines/isolations.
- All of MSB may have to remain in or go back into remote learning due to so many staff in quarantine/isolation that it is unsafe to have school.
As you know, we are conducting weekly staff PCR testing so that we know how wide-spread COVID-19 is. Because staff will be required to isolate or quarantine due to symptoms, positive test results or close contacts, there may be instances when we won’t have enough staff to cover specific classrooms.
The results of our weekly staff COVID-19 surveillance testing do not come back from the lab until late in the week, so we also need to be prepared to quickly assess our staffing levels, our ability to keep the students safe, communicate with staff and families and pivot quickly between in-person and remote instruction.
This means that classrooms should be prepared to switch to remote instruction at various times over the next few months at short notice, especially while COVID-19 infections continue to track upwards.
This information, as well as the new quarantine and isolation guidance from CDC and MDH, are being communicated with families. Please refer to Lauren’s email message “Updated COVID19 Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.”
Thank you again for your flexibility in all of these changes. I know this is very stressful.
I hope everyone had a safe and restful holiday and break. As we have evaluated our ability to safely open school, we have made the decision to implement virtual instruction beginning on Thursday, January 6, 2022 and ending on Friday, January 14, 2022. In-person instruction for all students will resume on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, following Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with Tier 4 residential students returning on Monday, January 17, 2022.
This decision was not made easily and is being done to keep staff and students as safe as possible. Based on current testing of staff, we have at least 10% positivity rate among staff. The positivity rate will most likely rise as we test more of us and our ability to safely have students on campus and in class will be negatively impacted.
Here is the plan:
- Virtual instruction will begin on Thursday, January 6 and will continue through Friday, January 14, 2022. Staff who are quarantined/isolated but who are feeling well enough to work may provide virtual instruction from home as needed.
- Testing will begin at 10 AM and staff should not report to campus prior to 9:30 AM to give time for ice and snow to be cleared from walkways.
- Today (Monday, January 3) is a snow day (Unscheduled school closing so RSP services will need to be made up).
- Tomorrow and Wednesday (January 4 and 5) will be used to (a) prepare for virtual instruction (b) ensure and perhaps deliver devices to all who need them, and (c) to complete PCR testing for all those not tested last night. (*Testing must be completed prior to 3pm tomorrow. New schedule being developed).
- All staff will receive PCR testing next week as well. Any changes to our return plan will be based on MSB’s positivity rate among staff and having adequate staffing in place to safely have students on campus.
- Hourly staff should clock in/out using Paylocity app or Paylocity website.
More information will be coming from your supervisor or director as soon as it is available to share.
Thank you for your hard work and continued flexibility as we continue to navigate schooling in a pandemic.